Coming to Bluray from acclaimed director Na Hong-Jin and Well Go USA Entertainment is a tale that will leave you guessing about “The Wailing.”
In a little South Korean mountain village called Goksung, Officer Jong-goo (Do Won Kwak) lives with family and his daughter Hyo-jin (Kim Hwan-hee). Always under scrutiny from his superiors, things are about to take a turn he could never have imagined.
Arriving at a house in the village, Officer Jong-goo finds a family has been murdered by a family member. After running tests it is discovered that the suspect was suffering from a skin rash and poisoned mushrooms.
That would have sufficed the officer except a woman in white, Moo-myeong (Woo-Hee Chun) approaches telling him that she knows who is responsible. Living deep in the woods further into the mountains is a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) who a hunter saw almost naked eating an animal and had glowing red eyes.
Jong-goo decides to go, along with another officer and a priest, to speak to the stranger but he is not there. What they do find is a tiny room inside the hut filled with the photographs of people who have the rash and have been killed. The stranger arrives and the group leaves quickly.
It is on the ride home that Jong-goo discovers that his daughter Hyo-jin has met the stranger. When he confronts his daughter, he is met with outrageous behavior and a foul mouth. Later in the night he discovers that it’s not just his daughter’s behavior that is bizarre but she has the rash!
As her condition gets worse, Jong-goo’s mother-in-law demands that the family seek out the Shaman (Jung-min Hwang) to stop the madness. He agrees but not before seeking out the stranger one more time and demanding that he leave within three days. Later, as the exorcism begins, Jong-goo is distraught over the pain the ritual seems to be causing his daughter.
Jong-goo has reached his limits and tells his friends what has been happening. Agreeing to help him they gather up weapons and head to the mountains. What they find will send them fleeing back down the mountain.
The priest needs to know the truth and is back into the mountains to find the stranger and confront who he is and what he wants. Going back to his home, Jong-goo is met by Moo-myeong who tells him he must stay away from his house as a trap has been set for a demon. He begins to wonder who he can trust and if he makes the wrong move – who will die.
A father’s love may not be enough to save them all!
Do Won Kwak as Officer Jong-goo is a man who seems to be floating through life. Not really happy with his life, the only thing that does give him comfort is daughter Hyo-jin. It is when he sees the first family destroyed that it sets in motion events that he can neither control nor fully understand. Stellar performance!
Hwan-hee as Hyo-jin is a young girl who is put through the ringer. This isn’t an easy role for a kid to play but man oh man does she play it. It is her physicality that gives this character the right amount of scariness wrapped up in a tiny little package.
Kunimura as the Japanese stranger is another character that is more physical than anything else. I have to give Kunimura credit because his portrayal had me waiting, and waiting AND WAITING! Talking about keeping your eye on someone, Jong-goo wasn’t the only one.
Chun as Moo-myeong is a woman who shows bizarre behavior and a keen knowledge as to what is actually happening. How and why she knows is irrelevant to the fact that she has details that everyone should pay attention too. Chun’s conversation with Jong-goo’s character at the end was nail biting.
Hwang as the Shaman wastes no time in charging the parents to perform rituals. He was doing a pretty good job until Jong-goo stepped in. Yet he knows more than he is saying and he also has secrets.
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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Wailing” five tubs of popcorn out of five. What an amazing, intense, and twisted tale told so very well. There isn’t a moment where I wasn’t wondering what was going to happen next – and to who! The cinematography truly captured the isolation of this village and the un-dead looked very undead!
It has been some time since I sat through a film that would be considered ‘horror’ and found it to be more engrossing than most horror films. I personally didn’t mind the length of the film because it actually felt like I was watching a series, which by the way I wouldn’t have minded either.
This is not a quick thriller but a 157 minute ghost story that isn’t going to give anything away if it can help it. The Bluray includes the Bonus Features of The Beginning of The Wailing, The Making of The Wailing and Trailers. The film is in the Korean language with English subtitles.
South Korean writer and director Na Hong-jin is also known for his 2008 film “The Chaser,” which won him Best Director at the Korean Film Awards. In 2010 his next film “The Yellow Sea” was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. “The Wailing” has received critical acclaim as it well should.
Add “The Wailing” to your must-see list along with “Train to Buscan” because both of these films are an unexpected surprise to zombie and horror genre lovers.
In the end — who to trust can be more deadly than a demon!